- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Feb. 8 (UPI) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Saturday against unilateral U.S. military action in Iraq, saying a possible war is an issue "not for any one state, but for the international community as a whole."

"When states decide to use force, not in self-defense but to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations Security Council," Annan said in an address at the College of William and Mary, where he received an honorary doctorate during ceremonies marking the school's 310th anniversary.

"States and peoples around the world attach fundamental importance to such legitimacy, and to the international rule of law."

He used the venue to discuss the increasingly contentious situation in Iraq and to underscore the United Nation's role in mediating the conflict. Annan stressed that force must only be used as a last resort, adding U.N. approval would give such a measure greater legitimacy.

"Was our organization not founded 'to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war'?"

Earlier in the week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq, reiterating its stance that the United States would act with or without U.N. backing.

While Annan praised the administration's role in pushing for confirmation Iraq has disarmed — saying President Bush's "firm challenge" was a large part of why inspectors were back in Iraq — he emphasized the tract of diplomacy over unilateral action.

"War is always a human catastrophe — a course that should only be considered when all other possibilities are exhausted and when it's obvious that the alternative is worse," Annan said.

The decision to use force is "a grim choice, but a necessary one," Annan said. But if Iraq fails to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding it disarm, "the council will have to make another grim choice … when that time comes, the council must face up to its responsibilities."

Also Saturday, chief U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei arrived in Baghdad to press Iraq to accept a much more intrusive look at the country's weapons resources.

Blix and Baradei, who arrived aboard a U.N aircraft, are to hold two days of intensive discussions on Iraq's approval to allow inspectors to use U.S.-made U-2 surveillance aircraft over the country's skies and to hold more private interviews with Iraqi scientists with government monitors.

President George Bush reiterated Friday his earlier comments that a second U.N. resolution, possibly authorizing the use of force against Iraq — something desired by many nations to justify their participation in any military campaign — was welcome, but not needed. If the Security Council did not act to disarm Iraq voluntarily or by force now, the United States would, Bush said. "I have said that if Saddam Hussein does not disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. And I mean it."

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